Celebrity Cruises Creates Diversity Image Library Other Co.s Can Use

Couple Carlos Martinez & Joel Vazquez relax with drinks at the iconic Magic Carpet on Celebrity Edge. Photo by Naima Green.

When it comes to advertising, we are all conditioned to expect the cookie cutter beautiful people to be placed in exotic locations and smiling and having a great time. Maybe we will meet these people if we go to that restaurant to eat or buy a plane ticket from that airline or buy that piece of clothing our bodies will look that good. 

Reality is that we are all different, but advertising and the people we see presented to us, not so much. Celebrity Cruises is not only shaking up their advertising, they’re inviting other companies to do so, and they have some big names to help them.

Celebrity Cruises® has launched a bold new initiative to change the meaning of “all-inclusive” in the travel industry. I was given a hint about this new campaign when I was aboard the Celebrity Apex for its naming ceremony where travel agents, media, influencers were invited to join Celebrity and many of their employees on a little cruise to get to know the ship. It was a great perk to experience the newest model of cruise ships out there, but what also was great was that we had access to some of the higher up administrators of Celebrity not only in a large interview format, but as well a one-on-one. I was able to sit down and bend the ear of Michael Scheiner, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Celebrity Cruises, Inc.

At that time Scheiner gave hints to a new and improved way of marketing coming soon and he said it mirrors what Celebrity is, open and inclusive for everyone. He also said Celebrity Cruises is a little more unique than other cruise lines stating, “We do take a stand on things because we are different.”

Micah Ramos, a non-binary model, lounges on the Retreat Sundeck on Celebrity Edge. Photo by Naima Green.

Recognizing the need to improve the representation of all people who travel in marketing materials, the new-luxury cruise line has created both a new campaign and the world’s first free to use, ‘open source’ travel image library. The campaign and collection –  ‘The All-Inclusive Photo Project’ (AIPP) – aims to start a movement, calling on travel companies to help address the lack of diversity in travel marketing imagery.

Now if you are in advertising and you desire to find some free imagery to use in a post or campaign, you know it can be hard. If you use the wrong image, you may get sued for five figures or more. The fact that Celebrity Cruises is taking the lead AND sharing its resources, well, that’s just being a great leader for changing the game.

Keen travelers, recently engaged couple, Tim and Sheehan share a kiss. Photo by Giles Duley

It’s a great idea, but to make it happen, you need the talent in front of and behind the camera. Acclaimed photographers on the project included Annie Leibovitz, Giles Duley (an English documentary photographer and a triple amputee), Naima Green (a Black, queer New York-based photographer), and Jarrad Seng (an Australia-based photographer, filmmaker and creative director of Malaysian-Chinese descent). 

And how about in front of the camera? The collection features models, musicians, athletes, artists, advocates and activists, refugees, and more. Their diversity is refreshing to see in advertising.  What a change!  And they are all change-makers in their own right from underrepresented groups, and are captured by the photographers as they enjoy the varied offerings on Celebrity’s ships and the destinations visited. 

Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo commented: “We want our marketing to represent how the world looks, and what we experience on our ships daily, as guests and crew from all walks of life work and play together to create a really special onboard environment.”

A friend and I just returned from a cruise at the beginning of March and while on the cruise, we actually had a conversation about that.  You do see all types, all walks of life, all body shapes, sizes, colors, ages, abilities. And it was refreshing seeing everyone just strolling together and having a great time.

Scheiner commented about this wonderful marketing change: “As global brands, we have a powerful platform to act as a catalyst of positive change. We know we have more work to do and we hope we inspire others to join us on this important journey. By leveraging our collective travel industry might, we can begin to make travel marketing truly ‘all-inclusive’.”

Will this make a difference in how we perceive companies and their advertising? I think so. Representation is everything, seeing people like us is reaffirming, seeing more than the cookie cutter bodies is welcoming. 

And it may change how I do things as well. As a travel writer, I do not post many, hardly any pictures of myself in the travel stories I write for instinct. As a 40 something overweight balding white man, I don’t feel people are desiring to see me in the photographs I share. This lead by Celebrity Cruises may make me change my practice. 

Jillian Mercado, a professional model in the fashion industry with muscular dystrophy, enjoying a new culinary experience on a Celebrity ship.  Photographed by Annie Leibovitz

For more information on the photographers and talent featured in the AIPP campaign, visit www.celebritycruises.com/PhotoProject.

Carlos Martinez, an actor and health counselor for an LGBTQIA+ organization, and his partner Joel Vazquez enjoy the clear ocean water.

About Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Cruises’ iconic “X” is the mark of 14 award-winning ships redefining new luxury cruise travel with modern design and accommodations; premium dining, spa, and entertainment; and culturally rich destination experiences, complemented by personalized service. Celebrity has pioneered many industry firsts at sea, including: the first use of solar panels on a cruise ship; the first to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles; the first American female captain of a cruise ship; the first-ever all-female bridge and officer team; the first West African woman to work on the bridge of a cruise ship; and one of the first legal same-sex weddings performed at sea. With a mission to open the world, Celebrity journeys to all seven continents, visiting nearly 300 destinations in more than 70 countries. Celebrity is one five of cruise brands owned by global cruise company Royal Caribbean Group. (NYSE: RCL)

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